Nov 17, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin (14) throws a pass against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Texans 28-23. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Matt McGloin: Statistical breakdown of a successful rookie breakout

It is no secret that Oakland Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin was one of the surprise stories of Week 11 in the NFL Sunday. The undrafted rookie quarterback from Penn State of all places showed the promise he told himself he had all along against the Houston Texans. With three passing touchdowns and no interceptions, McGloin picked his spots and performed above and beyond anyone’s expectations of him while managing the game well enough to win the game for the Raiders with the help of their underrated defense.

Let’s take a look at the stats and some breakdowns of McGloin’s film on Sunday featuring screengrabs from JBB Podcast cohost Rory Anderson

Perfect Start 

Mcgloin’s biggest success on Sunday was taking what the defense set up for him with good field position early in the game. A strip from Charles Woodson and an interception from linebacker Nick Roach put the Raiders on two good field position opportunities in the opening sequence of the game. McGloin made no mistake, throwing a dart on third and goal for his first touchdown pass before connecting on a longer 16 yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater to put Oakland up 14-0.

While the Raiders eventually blew a early first half lead for the second straight week, it was important that McGloin took advantage of good field position to succeed against a top ranked defense in the Texans. Terrelle Pryor has done well in converting turnovers from the excellent ball hawking Raiders defense during this season, but for McGloin to come out with two touchdowns on his first two NFL passes was a perfect beginning to Sunday that nobody could have scripted.

Second Half Success

Where McGloin scored big points in the Texans win was in the second half. Where the Raiders have been one of the worst teams in the league McGloin turned the ship around after a 17 point Texans run to end the first half with a furious third quarter out of halftime.

McGloin set up a touchdown drive with a textbook pump and go route to the sideline with Rod Streater that was the beginning of a sequence of great quarterback play from the rookie.


McGloin then followed up with a dart to Marcel Reece down the middle to move the chains before finding fellow rookie Mychal Rivera wide open downfield in the endzone to put the Raiders back up coming out of the second half.


McGloin’s drive sparked a second half comeback and was the big drive that the Raiders lacked last week. For all of the shortcomings and criticism Greg Olson has taken for not being able to adjust in the second half of football games so far as Raiders OC the success of McGloin post halftime will be something that is looked at when deciding a future starter.

Helping Defense, Run Game, but Not Hands 

While McGloin admittedly had a ton of help from the defense and running back Rashad Jennings’ 80 yard touchdown carry, he did have some problems with his receivers dropping balls, specifically Marcel Reece who dropped a well place pass from McGloin that could have went for big yardage if he held on. Dropped passes have been a problem for the Raiders and it was in to no surprise that with McGloin being thrown into the fire it was no surprise that there were some dropped balls. For the most part things were better on Sunday, at least there weren’t any end zone drops from Denarius Moore.

Spread Out Attack 

The biggest difference between McGloin’s debut and the Raiders passing game as of late was the use of both sides of the field. Whereas Pryor is a challenged passer when throwing to the opposite side of the field, McGloin used both sides of the football field to great success against the Texans. Seven of McGloin’s passes went to the left of the hashmarks for 5-7 completions and 65 yards while five passes went to the right side of the hashes for two completions and 39 yards. Down the middle McGloin 7-15 for well over 100yards and two touchdowns on passes for positive yardage. That balance was also shown in the amount of targets. McGloin threw against an individual Texans players no more than four times based on PFF’s stats from Sunday. Balancing the field helped great more space for the Raiders receivers at the same time as showing the wide variety of throws the undersized McGloin can make in the pocket when given time. Speaking of which…

Handling the Blitz

While McGloin was very efficient when given time in the pocket on Sunday, his numbers when under siege from JJ Watt and co. dropped off as expected. When pressured McGloin was just 5-13 for 53 yards (to his credit McGloin did throw one of his three touchdowns in the face of a Texans pass rush) and a 38.5% completion percentage, taking two sacks. Those numbers don’t reflect how he did with the Texans blitzing, as McGloin’s quick release helped the Raiders offensive line look much improved against a significantly better Texans defense, one that was top ranked heading into Sunday. McGloin did a couple of things well to help stop the Texans pass rush.

First was throwing the ball quicker than Pryor by a very significant amount, getting the ball out quickly and with confidence to keep the Texans on their heels.

An extra second of time in the NFL makes a world of difference, especially when it is in the pocket. The numbers don’t lie and McGloin clearly got the ball out quicker and with more confidence thanks to his days at PSU with Bill O’Brien last season. Undersized, McGloin made multiple progressions down the field with less time used than Pryor, helping out his offensive line without having elite speed.

Solid footwork also helped as McGloin showed pocket presence that eluded the pressure much like a famous undersized Raiders quarterback of the past that many might remember.

That pocket presence and quick release prevented McGloin from taking a sack on a Texans blitz for the entire game, save for some elite pass rushing from JJ Watt that caused serious problems McGloin helped the Raiders line out with quick strikes downfield and some sneaky footwork, but the next step will to post a better passer rating when under the blitz. No sacks is a start, but he still could only complete five passes for 28 yards when the Texans sent linebackers to the quarterback.

Work in Progress, but Deserves Second Look 

Obviously this praise for McGloin comes at an extremely small sample size and the quarterback did struggle to put together a game clinching drive, but at the end of the day it was a performance that should earn McGloin at least a second NFL start at home against the Titans at the Coliseum this week.

In an extremely tough spot going against a Texans team that is still loaded with talent that many thought could lead the way to the Super Bowl out of the AFC this year and a top ranked defense with the game’s best pass rushed, McGloin showed poise in the pocket that no Raiders quarterback has shown this season. With Pryor hurt and regressing it would be unfair to put him back in without taking one more look at McGloin if only for the sake of getting more film to evaluate and a bigger sample size for his statistics at the same time as Pryor fully heals an MCL injury that has slowed him down in November.

For now Matt McGloin has earned the title of QB #1 for the Raiders, but as we have seen all season that title comes with the burden of having to attempt to keep the job. Something that has went back and forth dating back to the offseason, if McGloin wants to keep his dream rookie season going from undrafted QB to third string to back up to starter he will need to keep producing. If he can manage to overcome the hurdles of higher expectations, film for opposing defenses to study, and inevitable regression that comes with being a quarterback trying to make his mark as a rookie back up. McGloin might have a chance to stick around. So far he has proven the doubters wrong. The rookie will need another big game and perhaps some beginners luck to parlay that hard work and excitement into prolonged status as the #1 QB.

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